LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th NBA championship Thursday at the Staples Center, beating the Boston Celtics, 83-79, in the 17th Game 7 in NBA Finals history and capping off a dramatic series of lopsided games that hinged on rebounds.
It was a night of tough defense and often downright ugly offense, as both teams struggled to make shots. The Lakers’ Ron Artest, who finished with 20 points, was the game’s top scorer until the fourth quarter, while Los Angeles star Kobe Bryant shot just 6 for 24 from the field. Trailing for most of the game, the Lakers tied the score 61-61 in the fourth quarter and took the lead with less than six minutes to go.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring (18 points) and in rebounds (10).
Through three quarters of the game, Boston led 57-53, and the game seemed destined to finish with a college-basketball-type score. But L.A. outscored Boston 30-22 in the fourth as both teams finally heated up, including from three-point range.
This was the 12th time the Lakers have met the Celtics in the finals but just the third time the Lakers have beaten their East Coast nemesis in the championship. The victory helped even up a postseason rivalry that began in 1959 and peaked in the 1980s when the two teams, led by Boston’s Larry Bird and the Lakers’ Earvin “Magic” Johnson, battled in the finals three times. That rivalry was renewed two years ago, in 2008, when the Celtics beat the Lakers in six games.
This year’s series was a tug-of-war: The Lakers won the first game at home, as Mr. Bryant surpassed Mr. Johnson’s record as the team’s all-time playoff leader in games played and total points scored, but the Celtics came back in Game 2, snapping the Lakers’ 12-game home playoff winning streak. The Lakers recovered in Game 3, winning in Boston despite Kevin Garnett’s 25-point performance, but the Celtics took Games 4, with Boston’s new acquisition Nate Robinson scoring 12 points off the bench, and Game 5.
Back at home for Game 6, the Lakers blew out the Celtics. Indeed, for a series that extended the full seven games, there were few truly close games, with Thursday’s Game 7 the closest of the series. In each game, the team with the rebounding edge was victorious….